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The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) has advised that on November 22, 2019, The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) reported that they are investigating an outbreak of illnesses caused by E. coli O157:H7 in the United States.

The FDA’s website reported that “epidemiologic, laboratory, and trace back evidence indicates that romaine lettuce from the Salinas, California growing region is a likely source of this outbreak”.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced that salad products with the affected romaine lettuce have been recalled. Information on this may be found by clicking here, here or here.

As the agency under the Ministry of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce charged with the protection of consumers, the DCCA is therefore advising all consumers not to use any romaine lettuce from Salinas, California.

E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium which can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhoea and abdominal cramps for about two to eight days (three to four days, on average after being exposed to the organism). Most persons recover within a week, but some may develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs supports the statements by the US FDA and FSIS, and is therefore recommending that consumers here in Barbados:

  1. Avoid eating romaine lettuce and salad mixes containing romaine lettuce from the Salinas in California;
  2. Read their labels carefully and return any of the affected lettuce to the retail outlet from which it was purchased;
  3. If ordering salad which contains romaine lettuce at a restaurant or at a salad bar they should ascertain whether the romaine lettuce came from the Salinas, California.  If it did, or if it is not known, it should not be eaten.

Moreover, restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell romaine lettuce which was harvested from Salinas, California.  If information about the source is not available, it should not be served or sold.

For further information, persons may contact the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs at 535-7000, 535-7003, 535-7005 or commerce.ca@barbados.gov.bb.


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